David Glenn reports on announcement of Palma Superyacht Week 10/3/06

Up to 70 super-sailing yachts will gather in Majorca in June 2007 prior to the America’s Cup to race in the Palma Superyacht Week which, among other events, will now include the New Zealand Millennium Cup

It’s being billed as the largest collection of sailing super yachts ever seen and today in Auckland prime movers in New Zealand’s marine industry added their backing to the new Palma Superyacht Week. They have effectively ‘exported’ the New Zealand Millennium Cup to make it part of what will be a spectacular precursor to the America’s Cup match which starts on 23 June in Valencia.

The dates of the Palma Superyacht Week, for sailing yachts measuring more than 30m, are 16-19 June 2007, just after the end of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenge Series (12 June) in Valencia. Paul MacDonald, chairman of New Zealand Marine, explained at a special press conference during the Auckland International Boat Show that the event was an amalgam of other regattas.

The popular Superyacht Cup Palma, now in its 10th year and normally held in October, will be moved to the new dates; the Millennium Cup will be raced for on the last day of the three day regatta; in addition, owners of yachts designed by Ed Dubois Naval Architects and owners of yachts built by Royal Huisman Shipyard will take part in a special regatta as part of the new event. Are you still with me??

The popularity of competitive superyacht events was demonstrated during the last two America’s Cups when up to 50 of the world largest sailing yachts gathered on a start line in Auckland Harbour for two days’ racing followed by a spectacular gala evening on Kawau Island.

With no cup to host in Auckland, the future of the Millennium event looked uncertain until the Kiwis and Europeans got together at recent boat shows in Monaco and Dusseldorf to thrash things out. The New Zealand marine industry has for the past six years supported the Superyacht Cup in Palma and it seemed a natural extension of this effective marine industry marketing tool to move their own successful event to Europe where some of the biggest players in worldwide yachting and business will gather for the Cup festivities.

Palma has been chosen for several reasons. Valencia simply hasn’t got the port or city infrastructure to host an event with so many superyachts; Spike Thompson and Patrick Whetter of Elvstrom Superyacht, the Palma-based sailmakers, have had ten years’ experience running the Superyacht Cup; and the island of Majorca and Palma Bay itself provide the perfect setting for a event of this nature.

The Millennium Cup has already attracted NZ$150,000 worth of sponsorship from both Alloy Yachts and Robinson Interiors and other firms have chipped in to donate 60 percent of the NZ$1.4 million needed to support the event. Paul Mac Donald described this as a fantastic start.

Racing will be of the pursuit variety to avoid embarrassing and expensive moments on a crowded start line. On 20 June there will be a Palma to Tarragona Farewell Leg followed by an all-night party in the ancient Spanish port. If anyone has energy left the fleet will then depart for a gentle cruise south to Valencia.

See the next issue of Yachting World for the 2006-7 Superyacht Cup schedule.